Apple backs royalty-free licensing of “nano-SIM” cards, looks to incorporate the technology in future iOS devices

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Date: Monday, March 26th, 2012, 06:55
Category: Hardware, News

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It never hurts to play nice every so often.

Per Foss Patents, Apple will reportedly offer to license a new, ultra-compact SIM card technology to rival mobile devices makers if they agree back the format as the new industry standard for subscriber identification modules (SIM), a move which could pave the way for more compact and efficiently-designed iOS devices.

The pledge, said to have been outlined earlier this month in a letter to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) penned by a senior member of Apple’s legal council, comes just days before the iPhone maker is expected to square off against opponents of the design at the organization’s Smart Card Platform Plenary in southern France.

Sized roughly a third smaller than existing MicroSIM cards found inside current iPads and iPhones, the proposed nano-SIM design — which is also noticeably thinner than that of MicroSIM — has already garnered the support of most European wireless carriers as part of their own proposals to the ETSI.

However, rival mobile device makers Nokia, RIM and Motorola have each voiced concerns in opposing standardization of nano-SIM — mainly out of fears Apple could eventually claim ownership of the patents behind the format, placing the company in a position of powered where it could command royalties from the broader industry.

The March 19th letter to the ETSI stands to invalidate these concerns, according to independent intellectual property analyst Florian Mueller, through “an unequivocal commitment to grant royalty-free licenses to any Apple patents essential to nano-SIM, provided that Apple’s proposal is adopted as a standard and that all other patent holders accept the same terms in accordance with the principle of reciprocity.”

“This shows that Apple is serious about establishing the nano-SIM standard rather than seeking to cash in on it,” he said. “Apple is a company that values its intellectual property and rarely gives it away for free. But as far as the evolution of SIM cards is concerned, Apple is clearly being generous and absolutely pro-competitive.”

In 2010, Apple was said to be working on an embedded SIM design that would allow users to select a carrier and service plan directly from their iPhone. But those plans allegedly upset the wireless operators, who felt they could be marginalized by such a move. As such, the Cupertino-based company compromised and began talking with carriers about designing a smaller SIM card that eventually emerged as the existing MicroSIM.

Apple’s continued push towards further miniaturization of SIM cards aims to reduce the space required to house the identification cards inside its future mobile devices, paving the way for devices that are either more compact or free up additional space for other components, such as larger batteries.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Unreleased Intel Ivy Bridge benchmarked on modified version of Mac OS X 10.7.3, promising results reported

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Date: Monday, March 26th, 2012, 06:25
Category: Hardware, News, Processors

The Ivy Bridge architecture is on its way, which will probably be a cool thing.

Per the tonymac86 Blog, a modified version of OS X 10.7.3 has been tested with an unreleased Intel Core i7 Ivy Bridge chip, giving a first indication of how Apple’s next-generation Macs will perform.

An anonymous tipster provided screenshots of benchmarks conducted with a Core i7-3770K processor to the blog. The Core i7 CPU is one of Intel’s next-generation Ivy Bridge processors, and was tested at its stock speed of 3.5GHz.

The early test, which used a Z77 motherboard, found that OS X runs well on Intel’s forthcoming Ivy Bridge processors. However, while the tests give an idea of how Ivy Bridge will perform with new Macs, the “Hackintosh” benchmarks do not represent any real Apple products.

The person testing the new Intel processor had to modify the boot kernel of OS X 10.7.3 Lion in order to get it to run on the chip. In addition, the Core i7-3770K is a high-end desktop chip that may never find its way into any of Apple’s shipping products.

Still, the tests offer the first look at Apple’s OS X operating system running on an Ivy Bridge chip. It’s also the first glimpse at Intel’s HD Graphics 4000, which previous tests running Windows 7 found is 55 percent faster than the 3000 series graphics integrated with the Sandy Bridge processors released by Intel last year.

The “Hackintosh” machine earned an overall Geekbench score of 13,453, led by a score of 20,250 for its processor floating point performance. The tests gauged the quad-core processor with 8 gigabytes of 2400MHz DDR3 RAM.

Apple’s new Macs with Ivy Bridge processors are expected to begin debuting in the coming months, starting with new, slimmer 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros that are rumored to already be in production. The new 15-inch model is expected to be offered in variations powered by Intel’s mobile Core i5 and i7 Ivy Bridge CPUs.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple’s use of double-resolution icons in Mac OS X 10.8 previews hint at Retina Display-equipped Macs

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Date: Friday, March 23rd, 2012, 09:59
Category: Hardware, Rumor

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When in doubt, go with the Retina Display.

Additional evidence has surfaced that high-resolution Retina display Macs are in Apple’s near future has been discovered in an early developer build of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion.

Per Ars Technica, double-resolution icons were found in “unexpected places” of Mountain Lion according to sources who wished to remain anonymous. Their inclusion was interpreted to suggest Apple could release Retina display MacBooks as soon as this summer.

One double-resolution icon was found in the new Messages application. In the second developer preview of Mountain Lion, released a week ago, some icons are incorrectly displaying at twice their normal size.

Their appearance in the latest build of Mountain Lion led the source to suggest that new MacBooks equipped with Retina displays could appear as soon as this summer, to coincide with the release of OS X 10.8.

Evidence of Retina display Macs cropped up in February when Apple released OS X 10.7.3 with new high-DPI user interface elements. Specifically, a number of cursors in the operating system were updated to scale to larger sizes on higher resolution screens.

Apple added HiDPI modes to OS X Lion last year, but they were previously only accessible by installing Xcode. HiDPI is modeled after the UI resolution doubling that Apple does with its Retina display iPhones, the iPod touch and the new iPad.

Rumors began to crop up late last year that Apple is preparing new versions of its MacBook Pro lineup with double-resolution displays. The resulting display for a 15-inch MacBook Pro would be 2,880 by 1,800 pixels.

Support for higher resolution Macs will come with Intel’s next-generation Ivy Bridge processors. Those chips will support up to the 4K resolution, which allows 4,096-by-4,096 pixels per monitor.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Colorado woman’s iPhone 4 allegedly combusts while charging, exact causes unknown

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Date: Thursday, March 22nd, 2012, 07:21
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Pictures

On the down side, an Apple iPhone 4 in Colorado apparently caught fire.

Still…SOMETHING had to catch fire.

Per Mashable, a Colorado woman alleges that her iPhone 4 caught fire while charging overnight and wants Apple to warn customers of the device’s possible combustion issues.

The woman, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, said she released her story in order to spread public awareness over the reported issue, claiming that Apple has been reticent to acknowledge the alleged incident.

The unnamed source claims that she awoke in the early morning during a recent trip to the east coast to find her year-old white iPhone 4 making “sizzling” and “popping” noises. After an unspecified amount of time there was “not quite an explosion, but an immense crackling,” and smoke plumed from the device creating “an awful, putrid smell, almost like you were ingesting plastic of some kind.”

Inspection of the provided pictures yields no clues as to which components were heated to the point of creating smoke, though it a bulging battery is clearly seen to have expanded enough to force apart the iPhone’s casing.

According to the report, the iPhone was connected via an Apple-branded charger to a power outlet that was later inspected and found to be working normally.

The woman goes on to say that when she asked Apple to be upgraded to a replacement iPhone 4S, the company furnished her with another iPhone 4.

“I would have liked to have seen them say they understand this might not be something that affects everyone,” the Colorado woman said. “But, because it happened here, [they should] put up a precautionary statement to make people aware that if their battery becomes too hot to be wary.”

The alleged incident is reportedly the first of its kind in the U.S., though there has been at least one similar instance in Australia involving the iPhone 4.

This is not the first time Apple has seen problems with overheating batteries as it extended a replacement program for its first-generation iPod nano in 2011 due to a defect that caused the device’s battery to overheat. The Cupertino, Calif., company first acknowledged the problem in a 2008 press release that stemmed from an investigation by the Japanese government.

There have been no reports of severe overheating issues with the iPhone 4S or any other products in Apple’s current lineup.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Additional third-generation iPad thermal testing continues with some reports indicating temperatures as high as 97 degrees Fahrenheit

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Date: Wednesday, March 21st, 2012, 07:48
Category: Hardware, iPad, News

There’s a plus side to the iPad 3: you’ll always be able to reheat your favorite foods with it.

Per AppleInsider, a new analysis has found the A5X chip in the new device runs as much as 16 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the A5 chip in the iPad 2.

According to a series of tests conducted by Repair Labs, the A5X chip registered temperatures up to 36 degrees celsius (96.8 degrees Fahrenheit), compared to A5 readings of 27 degrees C (80.6 degrees F). The experiment involved opening up the tablets in order to directly measure the temperatures of the chips.

Technicians measured multiple components inside the new iPad in order to verify that the A5X was the part putting out the most heat. The report speculated that a difference in materials between the A5 and the A5X may be a contributing factor, as the A5 is believed to be ceramic, while the A5X is “obviously metallic.”

An external test involved having the two iPads to play movies on Netflix. The third-generation iPad started at 27 degrees C (80.6 degrees F) and warmed up to 32-33 degrees C (89.6-91.4 degrees F), while the iPad 2 started at 24 degrees C (75.2 degrees F) and only climbed to 25-26 degrees C (77-78.8 degrees F).

Repair Labs said it was was unable to reproduce the 116 degree F temperatures that Consumer Reports noted earlier on Tuesday, though it did note that holding the new iPad 3 “could be noticeably warmer after only a few minutes use,” especially if held where the A5X is located.

Writing for Consumer Reports, Donna L. Tapellini said that the new iPad felt “very warm” when at its hottest, but not “especially uncomfortable if held for a brief period.” The story was quickly picked up by other outlets, some of which dubiously claimed that Apple’s new tablet could cause burns.

Consumer Reports is no stranger to controversy with Apple’s devices. The consumer advocacy group retracted its recommendation of the iPhone 4 in 2010 because it was able to reproduce a signal-loss problem in the device. With the release of the iPhone 4S last year, the group announced that Apple had resolved the issue.”

Separate tests conducted by Tested found a maximum temperature of 82 degrees F on the third-generation iPad when playing “Infinity Blade II,” the same app used by Consumer Reports in its tests.

Display expert Dr. Raymond Soneira of DisplayMate attributes the new iPad’s extra warmth to the fact that the device has approximately twice as many LEDs as its predecessor. “The LEDs give off 2.5 times as much heat as the iPad 2 and so will the battery and power electronics on the new iPad compared to the iPad 2,” he said.

An infrared test conducted earlier this week by a Dutch site found the new iPad to have reached 92.5 degrees F during a GLBenchmark test, almost 10 degrees hotter than the 83 degrees F measured on the iPad 2 during the same test.

For its part, Apple issued a statement on Tuesday that the new iPad operates “well within [its] thermal specifications” and urged customers with concerns to contact its support service.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Early thermal testing shows iPad 3 running 10 degrees hotter than previous generations

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Date: Tuesday, March 20th, 2012, 07:19
Category: Hardware, iPad, News

You may love your new iPad 3, but it’s been commented as a toasty beast.

Per Engadget, thermal imaging of a side-by-side comparison of the third-generation iPad and the iPad 2 found Apple’s latest tablet running 10 degrees (Fahrenheit) hotter than its predecessor.

Dutch site Tweakers.net performed the GLBenchmark test on the two generations of iPads for five minutes to measure a heat difference. Using an infrared camera, the publication discovered that the hottest part of the new iPad was 33.6 degrees Celsius (92.5 Fahrenheit), while the iPad 2 measured 28.3 degrees Celsius (83 Fahrenheit).



Though the new iPad does appear to run warmer than the iPad 2, it should be noted that the temperatures are still well within Apple’s specified operating temperature of 32 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit (0 to 35 Celsius).

The report went on to speculate that the new GPU is the likely cause for the added heat in the third-generation iPad. The new iPad features an A5X chip with quad-core graphics, presumably from the PowerVR SGX543MP4. A teardown of the tablet late last week revealed a new metal heat spreader affixed on top of the A5X.

Anecdotal evidence from iPad users on the Apple Support Communities forum shows that some users have found the new iPad to be warmer than the previous generation. One discussion had generated nearly 19,000 views and 219 replies as of Monday evening.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Teardown reveals new A5 processor, second antenna, additional RAM in new Apple TV unit

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Date: Monday, March 19th, 2012, 07:16
Category: Apple TV, Hardware

It’s the teardowns of new products that make technology interesting.

The new Apple TV unit has gone through a full teardown courtesy of XBMC community member “aiciofs” to discover the following components:

- A custom-built A5 processor that, unlike the A5 CPU found in the iPhone 4S or iPad 2, features only a single processing core.

- 512 MB of upgraded RAM.

- The internal flash memory remains at 8 gigabytes.

- Second antenna (as opposed to the single antenna of the previous Apple TV unit). Its exact purpose is unknown, but it was suggested that the antenna could be to improve Wi-Fi connectivity and speed.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple AV adapter “not optimized” for use with iPad 3, some magnetic sensor elements may have changed with new tablet

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Date: Friday, March 16th, 2012, 12:37
Category: Accessory, Hardware, iPad, News

The new iPad is out.

Now it’s time for the devices, the accessories and peripherals (first party or otherwise) to catch up to it.

Per MacOtakara, attempting to use an old Apple Digital AV Adapter with the new iPad results in an alert that it is “not optimized” for the device, though the accessory still works once the alert is dismissed. Apple also appears to have slightly modified the Smart Cover-compatible magnets on the right side of the iPad, possibly affecting some third-party covers.

The blog reported on Friday that the older version of the Apple Digital AV Adapter, part number MC953ZM/A, displays a “This accessory is not optimized for this iPad” alert when connected to the just-released third-generation iPad.

Apple is selling a new version of the adapter, part number MD098ZM/A, that is compatible with the new iPad. It’s not immediately clear, however, what changes will be made.

Report author Danbo wrote that tapping “Dismiss” would allow the older adapter to be used, but users will see the alert each time they connect the part.

Apple released the original US$39 Digital AV Adapter alongside the iPad 2 last year, adding HDMI output to for the iPhone 4, fourth-generation iPod touch and the iPad and iPad 2. The accessory features an HDMI port and a Dock passthrough.

MacOtakara also reported that Apple has made changes to the magnetic sensor that interacts with the Smart Cover to put the new iPad to sleep, though Apple’s own Smart Covers still work with the device.

“However, since the position or sensitivity of magnetic sensor was changed, 3rd party’s cover which has magnetic sleeping feature may not work perfectly,” the report read.

Danbo pointed out that Apple has yet to outline the changes in its “Dimensional Drawings” resource on its developer website, so case makers will have to do their own research to identify the exact nature of the changes.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iFixit posts full iPad 3 teardown, finds stronger involvement from Samsung than initially expected

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Date: Friday, March 16th, 2012, 09:34
Category: Hardware, iPad, News

It’s that time again and the cool cats at iFixit have performed a full teardown of Apple’s new third-generation iPad to discover the following:

- In removing the LCD panel, the solutions provider got a look at the back of the new Retina display. There, they found a model number naming scheme that suggests the panel for that particular model was built by Samsung.

- On the logic board is the new custom A5X processor, which features the same clock speed as the A5 CPU found in the iPhone 4S and iPad 2, but adds a new quad-core graphics processor and a gigabyte of RAM. The CPU was also built by Samsung, and markings on it indicate it was manufactured in the first week of 2012.

- The new 4G LTE iPad, identified by the model number A1389, also sports a larger 11560mAh battery.

- Texas Instruments CD3240 driver device.

- Broadcom BCM4330 802.11a/b/g/n MAC/Baseband/Radio with Integrated Bluetooth 4.0+HS and FM Transceiver.

- Epcos B4064 SAW filters.

- Fairchild FDMC 6683.

- Toshiba ZX0730 1123KLD.

- Qualcomm RTR8600 (under the thermal pad).

- Broadcom BCM5973 I/O controller.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to drop Nvidia Kepler GPUs for low and mid-range 2012 MacBook Pro notebooks

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Date: Tuesday, March 13th, 2012, 09:53
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, Rumor

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Whatever you were expecting the graphics card to be on the next-generation MacBook Pro, Apple might have something else in mind.

Per SemiAccurate, Apple’s next-generation low- and mid-range MacBook Pro models will not feature dedicated graphics cards, and will instead rely on Intel’s integrated Ivy Bridge graphics due to production issues with Nvidia.

Apple has dropped Nvidia’s next-generation Kepler graphics cards from a “large number” of its upcoming notebooks according to the report filed on Tuesday. The change has allegedly prompted Apple to adopt Intel Ivy Bridge CPUs that have higher shader counts, in order to offset some of the lost graphics processing power.

The change was reportedly made because Nvidia “can’t supply enough small GPUs” to Apple and other PC makers. That’s left Apple in a position where its next-generation low- and mid-range MacBook models “are not going to have a GPU, only a GT2 Ivy Bridge,” the report said.

“Nvidia can’t supply, so Apple threw them out on their proverbial magical experience,” it continued. “This doesn’t mean Nvidia is completely out at Apple, the Intel GPUs are too awful to satisfy the higher end laptops, so there will need to be something in those. What that something is, we don’t definitively know yet, but the possibilities are vanishingly small.”

The rumored issues apparently stem from the fact that Nvidia has struggled with its 28-nanometer manufacturing process for its next-generation graphics processors, code-named “Kepler.” As a result, some mid-range MacBooks will feature dedicated Nvidia GPUs, and some won’t, Tuesday’s report claimed.

The same site first reported last November that Apple would switch back to Nvidia GPUs for its 2012 MacBook models. Higher end 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros launched early last year relied solely on AMD graphics, while the entry-level 13-inch model features integrated Intel graphics.

Apple’s next-generation MacBook Pros are expected to feature a radically redesigned exterior, borrowing features from the company’s popular ultraportable MacBook Air. They are expected to be based on Intel’s forthcoming Ivy Bridge chip architecture.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.